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Scapegoats and Scapegoating
Pages 6 (1506 words)
The transfer of inequities upon the innocent is as old as humanity itself. In biblical times, a goat was sent into the desert to symbolically atone for the sins of the Israelites (Leviticus, 16:8-17; New International Version) in an ancient ritual. In contemporary usage, an innocent person is assigned the blame when actual targets are excessively threatening and thought to have the potential for retaliation (Clark, 1997).
LeGuin's story "The Ones who walk away from Omelas" presents a picture of a utopian city, governed by an underlying understanding that despite the moral repulsion of heaping torture upon one individual, it is a necessity for the mental well being of the many, in order that the utopian condition of the city might be preserved. The story "encapsulates the full beauty and horror of a society in which the good of the many occurs at the expense of the suffering of a small minority. "The abused child in the basement" from that story became a kind of shorthand for the disadvantaged in our discussions of social equity as it applies to all citizens." (Adams, and Pugh 65) In a similar manner, Jackson's "The Lottery" is based upon the theme of one individual becoming a scapegoat to support a group mechanism for the sacrifice of one to preserve the happiness of many. Crane's "The Blue Hotel" shows a self-selecting scapegoat who by rubbing in his difference creates a collusive communal reaction leading to his death.
LeGuin's story suggests an idyllic existence in a culture of a prosperous and sophisticated people, much given to c ...
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